Film supports workplace wellbeing
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UK workers are among the most stressed in the world, according to a new survey. Sheena Grant finds out about an initiative to try and redress the balance.
We spend a big proportion of our time at work but for many Britons, it seems, the experience is overwhelmingly stressful.
In a recent survey looking at health concerns in 23 countries around the world, the UK was ranked in the bottom five for mental wellbeing - behind the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Korea - with work-related and “unmanageable” stress both common.
Just one in 10 people polled in the Cigna Wellbeing Survey said their workplace had a wellbeing programme in place and they used it, compared to one in five globally.
These are the sort of issues coming under the spotlight in an initiative spearheaded by Suffolk County Council Public Health and GYROS, a Great Yarmouth-based organisation supporting newcomers and migrant communities across Norfolk and Suffolk
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The two organisations have teamed up to produce a video looking at workplace wellbeing and offering guidance to employers about how they can make improvements and help people get the right balance between home and work life.
The video, filmed at RPC M&H Plastics in Beccles, highlights the support available to keep employees well and focuses on a Polish worker, as Eastern European workers in general can suffer worse workplace wellbeing than others, for a variety of reasons, and are often less aware of what help is available.
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It summarises the support available from OneLife Suffolk, the county’s healthy lifestyle service, as well as other organisations, and ties in with the Five Ways to Wellbeing campaign, which promotes the importance of social networks, being active, giving back, lifelong learning and living in the moment.
According to Suffolk county councillor James Reeder, cabinet member for health, the most frequent causes of absence from work are linked to poor mental health and musculoskeletal health, which not only affect an individual’s wellbeing but productivity in general.
He said: “Employers have a duty of care, which is why being aware of the support that’s available is incredibly important.
“As part of our commitment to the wellbeing of the county’s workforce we want to encourage businesses and communities to support people to have secure jobs, and to be well at work. Our ongoing ‘Five ways to wellbeing’ campaign highlights simple steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing, from conversing with people around you to keeping active through regular exercise.”
GYROS formed in 1998 and says while it neither discourages nor encourages migration to the UK it does support newcomers and help them settle and integrate into the local community.
“We strongly believe this benefits everyone. It improves community cohesion and minimises the stress and potential dangers newcomers face and, through our bespoke services, we relieve pressure which would otherwise fall on local service providers, who are already stretched to their limits,” said a spokesperson..
GYROS provides free information, advice, guidance and advocacy on a range of topics, including housing, benefits, debt, health, UK rights, immigration, police, education and substance misuse. It also helps migrants access healthcare and other specialist services, runs social activities and conducts research about the experiences of migrant communities.
As part of its commitment to employee wellbeing, OneLife Suffolk has teamed up with workplaces to offer NHS health checks to staff.
Campaigns and marketing lead Laura Beale said: “These health checks assess a person’s risk of developing sometimes preventable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and some types of dementia.
“They provide a fantastic opportunity for people to check their risk whilst also being offered support to make changes to their lifestyle, such as stopping smoking or managing a healthy weight which could reduce the likelihood of them developing preventable diseases.
“Because OneLife Suffolk is an integrated healthy lifestyle service we have also gone on to offer in-house weight management, stop smoking programmes and health walks following workplace health checks and we are keen to continue working with workplaces across Suffolk. Our programmes run from various community venues as well as linking with workplaces.”
The video can be viewed on the Healthy Suffolk website, www.healthysuffolk.org.uk/projects/workplace-wellbeing, along with more information about the project and tools such as a quiz and workplace wellbeing questionnaire. For more information on OneLife Suffolk go to www.onelifesuffolk.co.uk. For more on GYROS go to www.gyros.org.uk.
A ‘crucial issue’
RPC M&H Plastics was pleased to be involved with the workplace wellbeing initiative.
General manager Joe Rahman said: “There are countless reasons to improve the health and wellbeing of your workforce – not only the uplift in productivity that is often cited. With a planned approach, the whole attitude of being at work becomes a positive experience, encouraging greater levels of communication, more collaborative working and a professional attitude that extends across the workplace, suppliers and customers.
“The cohesive atmosphere created encourages greater staff wellbeing. Simple things, like colleagues asking about each other’s wellbeing and the more complex and administrative structures for health and safety, all have positive effects on mood, productivity, sickness levels and the quality of goods produced.
“Our Beccles site employs more than 800 people and we go out of our way to encourage greater levels of communication and observance of an individual’s issues that may affect their wellbeing. Our continuing work with the Healthy Suffolk initiative has improved our levels of awareness of this crucial issue.”